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'I treat my players like men, not children' - Tinkler explains Maritzburg United transformation

17:44 GMT+3 21/03/2020
Eric Tinkler, Maritzburg United
After a troubled campaign last season where they narrowly escaped relegation, the Team of Choice are a formidable outfit this term

Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler says that firm man-management skills and pulling in one direction as a team are the ingredients that have contributed to his side’s strong Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaign this season.

Having won their last four games, the Team of Choice are currently fifth in the standings, nine points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs although they have played two more games.

This is in stark contrast to last season where they were battling relegation for the better part of the campaign and had to keep their PSL status alive through the play-offs.

And after failing to win their first five matches this season, it appeared that their lethargy was not over but they rose to become a solid outfit.

“I think it is about giving people responsibility‚” Tinkler was quoted as saying by Times Live.

“I think it’s important that they need to take ownership of their own game. You can always look to blame others for our performances‚ we first need to look at ourselves. I think it’s important that they focus on that. We take ownership as a squad.

“It’s not only me. Yes‚ I give us direction‚ but everybody needs to believe in that direction and everybody needs to want to reach those targets and those directions. I think it shouldn’t be me having to scold players when they are not performing well.

“It needs to be his own colleagues because it becomes clearer than when it comes from me."

Also marking a good season for them was reaching the Telkom Knockout final where they were edged 2-1 by Mamelodi Sundowns.

Tinkler emphasised the way he handles his players as having a strong effect on their transformation.

“You see that in our squad‚ you see that in training. When someone’s under-performing the team makes sure that he lifts his game,” continued Tinkler.

“If someone is misbehaving‚ the team must take action against the individual. That is something we have tried to bring in here.

“I’ve always had the belief that if you treat players like men instead of children‚ they’ll be forced to behave like men‚ but if you treat them like children‚ they’re going to behave like children.”

Maritzburg’s strong performances this season include dumping Chiefs out of the Telkom Knockout and also beating the leaders in a league game after drawing against them in the reverse fixture.

This has seen forward Thabiso Kutumela earning a national team call-up while some of their players are being linked with big-team moves.